In the Field

[Note: All information below was created solely for support of the 2012–13 DFS sandbox, and is likely no longer current.]

Below are some general instructions intended for 2012-13 DFS Sandbox participants using mobile devices in the field. The instructions are specific to this DFS site, but may be adapted for other WordPress instances.

You can post to the DFS site using your mobile browser, but to keep things simple we recommend you use the WordPress app. Install and test it before you head into the field!
  • Before you install the app, make sure you have already registered for the DFS site
  • Download/install the appropriate version for your iOS or Android device (photos to the right are for iOS)
  • Connect to DFS by specifying the “self-hosted blog” URL , entering the login name and password you chose when registering, and enabling geotagging (you may need to do this outside of the WP app)
  • When successfully connected, go to step 2 and do a post, making sure to check the miscellaneous category “Test”; then verify that your post and placemark show up on the test posts map
Once you have successfully completed these steps, all you’ll need to do is launch the app and you can readily post to DFS from the field. Make sure to read the following steps to ensure that your posts are done correctly!


When you click the WordPress app to add a post in the field, you’ll get a screen that looks something like the image at right. The most important elements are:

  • The title. Do enter one, and make it informative and interesting! Remember, this is public communication, so keep the reader in mind.
  • The one category relating to your post (you don’t need to check others in the hierarchy). This is very important, as it’s how your post and associated geotag will show up in the right place! Make sure you know which category to check before you start your new post.
  • The geotagged location. This should be automatically set, but do confirm; if you need to change it slightly you can easily do so later.
  • The post content, including text and associated media. Again, remember this is public communication! You can always edit your post later as well; in fact you should.
    • If you are sharing a photo, make sure to choose the appropriate image size! Large images take longer to upload but display with greater detail.
    • If you wish to share a video, we recommend you first share a post at the location, then capture a video and upload it later to a hosting service such as YouTube, then attach this video to your posting; see On Your Computer for detailed video recommendations.
When you are done, click Publish to share your post on the DFS site, or you can click Cancel and store a draft on your device. Now go to the next step to learn how you should edit your post after you return.

In virtually all cases, you will want to polish up your post on your computer once you return from the field. Here are a few things to do:

  • It’s generally much easier to catch spelling mistakes, fix grammar, etc. on your computer. Take a good look at posting title and text and edit as necessary, remembering your public audience.
  • You should see the photos you attached. To make them work best for mobile devices, you can click on each photo and edit it under Advanced Settings, with width set to a percentage (e.g., 50%) and height left blank.
  • Remember the all-important categories! Make sure you checked the right one(s).
  • The DFS site automatically inserts a map at the bottom of your post, but if you want to zoom in/out or make other changes just rollover the Automatic link and click Edit, then click Save when done.
Remember, you can always edit a post! But as soon as you click Publish, it’s, um, public. So make sure everything is top quality scholarship.

If you are using your mobile device in the field simply to shoot photos, and not to immediately post them as in the procedure above, you may attach them later to a post. But it’s important to remember that the WordPress app uses your current location as the geotag, not the location of the attached photo! So, if you’d like to use the photo location on a post and you aren’t currently at that location, you’ll need to post from a computer and set the location manually. Here is the complete procedure, including how to get the photo location (for iOS devices—Android devices will be similar):

  • Download an app for your mobile device that displays EXIF (exchangeable image file) data for your photos. Two options are Exif Wizard and Image Data
  • Using one of these apps on your mobile device, select your photo library and desired photo. You’ll then see its metadata, including latitude and longitude.
  • Now do a computer-based post and attach your downloaded photo, entering the lat/long you obtained above into the MapPress geotag search box in standard Google Map format (see On Your Computer, item #4). Remember that S latitudes and W longitudes are negative values!

You can also obtain EXIF data on your computer for downloaded photos using a variety of programs, but the above will work with the photos on your mobile device.

In addition to the WordPress app, mobile devices can be used for a variety of mapping tasks, since many of them have onboard GPS capabilities and can store dynamic maps that move with you in the field. Here are some examples:

  • Finding where you are at in the field relative to a current air photo or map, or an historical image! The latter is a neat way to experience firsthand how landscapes have changed over time.
  • Finding your way to a reference point, say one representing an important landmark you previously identified via GIS or map analysis.
  • Adding geolocated information you find, create, or measure in the field via points, lines, or polygons with notes and attribute data.

Below is a table of some sample apps you can use on smart devices, including iOS and Android. Depending on your field location and cellular provider, you may or may not have cellular online connectivity, so the table summarizes some apps that allow you to upload maps in advance for offline use in the field.

Application Platforms On/Offline Description
Summary table of mobile mapping apps
ArcGIS iOS/Android Online only Provides a variety of searchable and location-aware basemaps with minimal functionality. Big asset is connectivity to ArcGIS Online maps (see here for detailed help).
Gaia GPS iOS/Android Both In addition to standard GPS features (e.g., tracking and documenting routes) and point/polygon entry, Gaia GPS offers a number of basemaps for offline use, and (slightly complicated) upload of your own non-georeferenced maps, with linking to georeferenced maps coming.
Google Earth iOS/Android Online only Google Earth for mobile devices offers mostly view access to Google Earth layers and display of user GoogleMaps. Offline access possibly to be implemented in future.
PDF Maps iOS only Offline use PDF Maps allows you to upload geoTIFFs (a standard raster format) etc. for offline access. One key ability is to define fields common to all placemarks, so you can enter a variety of data for each location. See Site Admin page (Appendix section) for details.
Spyglass iOS only Both Spyglass is less a mapping app than an “advanced compass, a toolkit and a navigator” offering sophisticated heads up, augmented-reality display using your iOS GPS and camera.

 

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